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I know everyone is commenting on this story, so I of course have to throw my two cents in…from the perspective of leadership.
There are a few things I think we can all learn from President Obama’s words and actions. Watch the video first, and then read my thoughts below:
1) “Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.”
CON: When a friend is involved in something of this nature, it is critical for a leader to be extra cautious before making a statement or decision. When friends and family are involved, a leader’s perspective can get a bit fuzzy.
PRO: I appreciate that the President said “I may be a little biased here”…if you have a bias, it’s better to state that than to just breeze over the bias.
2) “I don’t know all the facts.”
CON: It is best to not make a statement until you have all the facts…period. This one can hang you as a leader.
PRO: Again…at least the President admitted that he did not have all the facts.
3) “Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home”
CON: While I realize our law enforcement professionals have some flaws and many have been accused of racial profiling, I simply don’t feel that it is appropriate to even suggest that any police officer or department acts “stupidly”. Choose your words carefully (hastily may have been a better choice here.)
PRO: The President did not “couch” his words. Being direct can work, but you do have to be very careful who you are speaking to and the words you use. Many people are now saying that Obama called the Cambridge police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, stupid…that is not what he said. He said the Cambridge Police acted stupidly (that is a behavior…and I don’t believe Obama was calling Crowley stupid.)
4) “As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that’s been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is that, you know, this still haunts us.”
CON: A sensitive button got pushed, and an assumption was drawn that this incident was related to racial profiling. That is a very slippery slope, and if the President had done his homework on Crowley, he would have known that he has a record of speaking out against racial profiling and educating others on how to stop it. As a leader, before you discuss sensitive subjects (race, religion), it is best to make sure that you are not speaking from the place of a “hot button”.
PRO: The President took a stand, and we need someone who is willing to take a stand right now and speak from a place of passion.
In closing, I admire President Obama for going back and calling both Crowley and Gates to the White House for a beer. I have seen a lot of mending happen over a few drinks.
Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland.
I am sure by now that you all see the repeating patterns in the lives of these men and women. Each died as a result of prescription drug use, and this all leads to the ever pressing question of “Who was enabling the behavior to an extreme so great that the end result was death?”
I want to say first that the responsibility does rest with Jackson, Ledger, Smith, Monroe and Garland. If you are unwilling to do the work to stop an addiction, then of course, you are ultimately responsible.
But, as we all know, when an addiction is present, there are also enablers. In the case of these celebrities, there were multiple doctors involved, and in the case of Jackson, it seems to me that a doctor (or doctors) were not only enabling but were actually living in the home with him. I am sitting here today scratching my head thinking “If
Police and federal agents Wednesday raided offices of Michael Jackson’s personal doctor Conrad Murray, in a search for medical records they believed would constitute evidence of manslaughter, so now the case is going to break wide open, and my hunch is that since Ledger and Smith died so recently, there will be a full out investigation of these celebrity doctors who are peddling prescription drugs.
This whole situation has just brought to my mind that this situation happens everywhere…not necessarily with prescription drugs but through what I call “destructive confidants”…people who exhibit behaviors which protect, shield and “enable” leaders and can cause destruction not only to the leader but the family and the companies they serve.
Today, I want to leave you with 7 warning signs that the leader in your company or small business may be taking advice from a destructive confidant:
1) The leader is becoming more and more isolated, spending the bulk of his time with the confidant.
2) The leader no longer takes advice from people who have their head on straight. They are only taking advice from the confidant.
3) The leader is totally unaware of decisions being made around him. The confidant is shielding her from bad news…only good news is allowed.
4) The leader begins to bring in “yes men and women”…people who only say “yes” to the leader at each and every turn.
5) You have a feeling the confidant is in the relationship only to gain more power for himself (if you notice a confidant gaining power and then moving on to the next “powerful relationship”, this is a red flag indeed.)
6) The leader seems to become more and more reliant on the confidant. She cannot seem to make a decision without clearing it first with the confidant, is calling the confidant in the middle of the night and always seems to have the confidant around.
7) You get the sense that the confidant is lying to others and cheating to “beat the system” and to gain more power.
If you are someone in an organization, and you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to take action. If you have a Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Board needs to be alerted (if he/she does not already know it,) and swift action needs to take place to address the situation. If you believe that there is a psychological situation at hand, contact your Human Resources adviser or director in confidence to discuss the proper steps to take to address the issue. While this is a challenging situation, it is certainly one that someone needs to address sooner rather than later.
Jeanette makes some great points that we can all learn from in this post,
If you have not yet had the chance
For an excerpt from the book,
I join the world today in celebrating the life of music icon
It is odd to me that just yesterday, I shared one of my favorite quotes with you by John Quincy Adams:
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
- John Quincy Adams
We all may not realize, but if you buy into the above quote, Michael Jackson is one of the most world changing leaders of the last five decades. He changed the way the music industry looked, sounded and felt. He inspired dance. His video
I hope today that everyone will remember and know that Michael Jackson was a genius and was followed by not millions but billions of people. In 1970, when the song
So, just a few of the obvious things to tickle your brain.
1) The video
2) The moonwalk changed dance (just look at the hip hop industry if you don’t believe this)
3) The video
So, today, I leave you with the video. Just watch and see Michael Jackson…not just the king of pop but a visionary and global leader.
I started getting frustrated yesterday with the television in my bedroom. So, I went to
So, I bought a new cable cord…$9.00. I went home, reconnected all, and voila! Television and cable are now beauuuutiful.
I actually started thinking “Oh what the heck…I’ll just get a new television rather than trying to figure out what’s wrong with the thing!”
Then, today, across my reader came this article from
Great read for everyone! And, I feel accomplished fixing my television. Now…can someone send me ideas on
In this day and age, I will be the first to admit that it is tough to be a leader. The world is changing by the minute, and as a leader, hundreds of eyes are on you…watching and critiquing every move you make.
The following behaviors are 3 of the most common I have observed in my work as an executive coach and consultant to be the biggest derailment factors in a leader’s life. These behaviors can seriously hurt your credibility and prevent you from building trust with others and effectively leading your team. Over time, if used repeatedly, these behaviors can literally destroy your business or organization.
If any of these behaviors are causing you a challenge in your life as a leader, I invite you to contact me for a consultation to discuss how I can help you begin to design a developmental plan to improve your overall leadership effectiveness.
And…if you would like to receive our pdf download The 100 Behaviors Guaranteed to Destroy Your Credibility as a Leader, scroll over to the right of this blog post, sign up for our mailing list, and you will gain instant access to the full list of 100.
3 Behaviors Guaranteed to Destroy Your Credibility as a Leader
1) Sarcasm. It seems to me that people just enjoy being sarcastic. I suppose to some it is a sense of humor, but to the person receiving the sarcasm, it can almost feel like a form of emotional abuse. Sarcasm is biting, can cut to the core of another human being and is most often used as a way to taunt someone or passively tell them that they “stink” or just aren’t cutting it.
Solution: Sit down and have a passionate, compassionate and direct conversation with the person you are wanting to target. Apologize for your sarcastic tendencies, and ask your team to call you on the carpet when they hear you moving in the direction of using sarcasm. If you are going to use humor, the best form of humor is self-depricating. But…if you are trying to direct your humor at another person’s expense, you will instantly diminish your credibility.
2) Delaying Problem Solving Hoping the Problem Will Just “Go Away.” I see this every day, and here is the reality: If you have a big problem in your life, in your company or on your desk, ignoring it is going to escalate the problem from being an open sore to a full blown infection in your company.
Solution: When a problem strikes, sit down with your most trusted advisors, and ask for input. Move out of your comfort zone to start formulating not only a solution to a problem but a proactive plan so that the problem does not rear its ugly head again.
3) Lack of Political Savvy. We live in a world based on political maneuvers. If you think your business or your company does not play politics, then it’s time to get real…political moves govern the majority of decisions made in life, and as a leader, you have to be willing to 1) Admit that you have politics in your organization and 2) Know how to navigate the political waters so that you promote growth, rapport and build trust.
Solution: Begin to get to know as many people in your organization and the influence they have on others. Learn what motivates them, what ticks them off and find the best approach so that you can work with the influencers in your company without compromising your core values. Many people who are politically influential have big egos, so you are going to need to check your ego at the door so that at the end of the day, you can all get the job done. You will be asked to be flexible…again…without compromising your values and code of ethics.
These leadership skills are not just skills for leaders…they are skills for everyone…business owners, service professionals, parents, teachers and students. If you are someone who is ready to improve your leadership behaviors so that you live a better, more fulfilling life,
I was talking with a young woman yesterday who recently left a company after she was written up for “walking too fast”. She told me this, and I thought I had heard her incorrectly. I said “Can you say that again?” She then said “I just left XYZ Company, and a part of their culture is to walk slowly to reduce stress, and I was reprimanded for walking quickly”.
She then proceeded to tell me that she was hired to do a job for which she was highly skilled and then was actually assigned another job (70% of her day) and that the job she was assigned was one of her biggest weaknesses. She was given high marks on the 30% of her job for which she was highly skilled and low marks on the job that was her weakness (duh?). And, supposedly she told them upfront that this particular skill was not her job and, the company did they tell her that “walking slowly” was a part of the culture (this woman is very fast moving and highly energetic, and any person with a brain could see it a mile away).
Why is it that we continue to do this to people in our companies? I hear this constantly, yet many leaders don’t stop to consider the consequences of blindsiding people on the job. Leaders get employees quickly to fill a position, feed them a bunch of bull during the interview and then blame them when things go wrong! Come on! Stop it!
My question for today is “Are you leading in a blaming organization? Or are you working for one?”
If you are, some of the behaviors might include:
1) Shooting the messenger
2) Squelching employee’s opinions
3) Saying one thing and doing another
4) Passing the buck up or down when you encounter a mistake
5) Closed-mindedness to new ideas
6) Poor training (or you are providing training one time a year in a classroom thinking this will do the job)
I believe that we can change this blaming organization to an organization which thrives on responsibility, respect and support. We can all start by implementing these steps:
1) Deploying talent (putting people on the right job where they can thrive and succeed).
2) Shifting our language “he or she did it” to “I take full responsibility for this incident” (if you are a leader or a manager involved in an accident [notice I don't use the word mistake], then you are ultimately responsible).
3) Listening and appreciating your employees’ opinions by saying “Thank-you for your idea. I will sleep on this.” Then, get back to them on your thoughts around their suggestion.
4) Under-promise and over-deliver. If you tell an employee they are being hired for a certain job, don’t give them another job or make promises you cannot keep.
5) When you get bad news, sit down, take a deep breath and stop talking! Just listen, take it in, step back and calmly thank the person for the news.
6) Start providing on the job training and coaching on a daily basis. The best way to stop the blame game is to train people well on each and every step of the process and then make yourself and them accountable to their success (yes…you are accountable for your followers’ success. If they don’t get it after great ongoing training and coaching, then it’s probably time for them to move on).
We encourage your comments on this subject.
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Bea Fields is a Leadership Coach, Consultant and Trainer and the author of two well respected books: